Class Autonomy

What does class autonomy mean?  Autonomy means, in essence ‘without them.’

Just as the company owners and management (capitalists and their representatives, respectively) meet without us, the workers, to make key decisions in the interest of growing bottom-line profits without our presence or input, (read: making decisions about the workflow, processes, expectations imposed upon us), we must heed this strategy to and also meet and organize our interest autonomously, without them. Companies with their owners and management do not just meet without us present,  they always prepare themselves beforehand to best assess,  measure and methodically educate themselves to analyze the present situation to judge what is a course of action, or strategic decision that is most in their interest as a class.

Facing Our Adversary: Why We Freeze

We all know what it is: when we are together with our fellow workers and laborers, even the ones we don’t particularly like, we feel more assured and free to speak the truth, because there aren’t tiers of power-over our livelihood present.  This changes as soon as management calls a meeting with us; we tense up, we shut down, we know the power over us is present and anything said or not said could potentially lead to a cascade of crisis for our families if the paycheck doesn’t come next week and we can’t pay the bills.

Principles are Instructive

The core principle of Class Autonomy in Working Class Struggle calls us to recognize that uneasiness we feel in the presence of management is instinctually correct and instructive.  We must heed its call.  Our condition is shared with our fellow workers and laborers and to firstly identify our interest and criteria we need to meet together and organize independently from these antagonistic interests.

On occasion we may have a supervisor or member of management who seems kind and genuine with us, and while it may feel temporarily comforting to receive a little empathy from him we cannot let our guard down and lose sight that management, regardless of the individual’s personality, is there for one reason alone: to protect the interest of capital no matter it’s expense to your life.

Organize Autonomously!

It is only as a class of workers and laborers gathering in organized fashion without these outside antagonistic interests present that we can begin to identify together our common situation and carve a collective unified response and strengthen our footing as a whole.  Together we must draw these boundaries around us so we may carve the path to command respect and power amongst each other in our workplaces, our communities and when we are isolated facing management so we are not pressured to sell-out our fellows and self.

For far too long, we as workers and laborers have repeatedly been guided by outside interests and represented at the table by non-workers. This has included politicians, figureheads who lobby for negotiating with management on their terms, company seminars and workshops, company installed hotlines, and increasingly so today non-profit organizations with philanthropic missions.  These others have been stepping in to “help” us to do our heavy lifting for us preventing us from building our capacity and strengths of leadership. Without class autonomy a conflict of interest exists: the fox has been guarding the henhouse.  We must reclaim our autonomy, embrace education and organization based on collectivity and unity and kick the fox out.

Who decides on how we live?
Work, taxes, pay cuts and all we give,
Bosses treating us like kids
When we come together we can fight all this!

Statement of Support for Farmworkers of Washington State and San Quintin, MX and the Boycott of Driscoll’s Berries

Read all solidarity statements for Sakuma farm workers here:
https://boycottsakumaberries.com/campaign-updates/solidarity/

Victory to farm workers!

We stand in solidarity with farm workers in Washington State and San Quintin, Mexico who have organized an international boycott of retail products containing berries from Sakuma Bros. Farms, including all berries sold under the Driscolls brand and Haagen Dazs (Nestle) ice cream. These workers have been subject to wage theft, abusive conditions, and impossible production demands.

When workers autonomously organize to fight against exploitation and abuse, we must stand with them in support and solidarity. Workers across industries and borders have a common struggle, and only together can we win!

We pledge to honor the boycott, and urge others to do so, until the farm owners submit to the workers’ demands.

Workers Struggle
Sudbury, Ontario chapter
Fort Lauderdale, FL chapter
Miami, FL chapter

Statement of Solidarity to landless peasants organizing in Haiti

Greetings Sisters and Brothers,

We at Workers Struggle recently got word of you organizing your first ever General Assembly. CONGRATULATIONS! We are in a situation in the world where we face the same exploitation and domination everyday, sometimes we are even robbed by the same companies!  Though our day to day conditions and situations are very different, our enemy is the same. Our interests are one with yours. Every victory for your organization(s) is a victory for all of us! If we can build organized solidarity across borders and across waters, we can construct an alternative to the beast running rampant on the world, exploiting workers, attacking peasants, farmers, students, and everyone in between. We extend our hands in solidarity and camaraderie to you and wish you victory in every situation you face! Your strength and determination is inspirational and we stand by your side!

Yours in Struggle,
Workers Struggle-Miami
Workers Struggle-Fort Lauderdale
Workers Struggle-Sudbury

“Our time is lost” — truck drivers waiting for jobs

Report on flyering @ truck parking lot, by G, Ft. Lauderdale, July 26 around 12-1 PM

We spoke with around 9 truck drivers & gave out newsletters, and left a few newsletters in empty cabs.

Most of the drivers are with a company called “XXX trucking” (name omitted to protect workers’ identities) which according to one driver uses approx. 100+ owner operator drivers. Most of the truckers were sympathetic to organizing and the need to resist the company’s exploitation.

Most spoke Spanish and it seemed about half spoke primarily Spanish with some English. A couple of drivers recommended that we provide a Spanish language translation of the newsletter.

In conversation, truckers raised a current pressing issue with “”XXX trucking” that is developing:

It appears that the drivers are currently paid $xx for a certain route/job in Miami and the company has floated, or is in the initial stages of implementing a pay cut from the current rate to an amount less than half of that. This is problematic because while the route takes a number of hours (it appears about 2 hrs.) to complete, in their words “work is slow” and unpredictable. Some days there is no work at all. In this way it appears that the current rate per job averages out over the dead time that the drivers have, so I’m not sure what the effective hourly rate is, but clearly such a significant reduction would have significant effects on the drivers’ well being.

A number (most or all?) of the drivers we spoke to were in fact waiting to be called for a job, and said that their “time is lost.”

When we said that we are trying to help form an organization of workers to resist the bosses’ attacks, a driver asked when the meeting would be and at their indication of an appropriate time we scheduled a tentative meeting for later this week, and at their suggestion we relayed the time & place to the rest of the drivers. (Note; in the event no one shows, we’ll revisit the lot to speak with the drivers some more).

I personally felt that a couple of drivers seemed to be in overt emotional distress while discussing the situation with “XXX trucking.”

 

Kiss My Ass: Your Boss is Not Your Friend

GoodWorker

By Chris, truck driver, South Florida, July 2016
Illustrated by Stephanie McMillan

All too often I have seen my coworkers, regardless of what job it was, cozy up to the manager or direct supervisor to gain some sort of favor. For some it’s blatant. But for most, I don’t think they even realize what they’re doing.

The blatant ones are “ass kissers” “suck ups” or “brown nosers” and will say almost anything to get what they want, whether it may be a better schedule, a better job function or position. Whatever it may be, these “ass kissers” will butter up their managers with gifts, invitations, or even worse… sell out their fellow coworkers by feeding information to their bosses. This can never be tolerated and these people need to be called out every time!

It’s the other type that can be more dangerous. The men and women who don’t even know they’re pandering to their bosses. The ones who become friendly, maybe go play golf or have a few drinks because they believe “my boss is ok.”

HeyPalGimme a fucking break!! Your boss is not ok!!

These employees may receive small favors of which they’re unaware, only to have them held over their head when the boss deems necessary. Most will react by trying to do better next time … and so it goes!! They still think the boss is ok, but now they’re being manipulated into doing a better job!! And in the process of doing better, because the boss is a “friend,” they in turn, are selling out their coworkers, even more than the most blatant “brown noser.”

As working men and women, if we’re ever to emancipate ourselves from the exploitation of the capitalist system, we must be keenly aware that our supervisors, managers etc are really our enemies. We can be cordial and even helpful on the job, but we cannot forget that there needs to be a clear line between the working people and management. Otherwise we get caught in the same vicious cycle that has been plaguing us for decades.

As working people, we need to stick together and unite to look out for our own interests. Siding with the company will never get us there. Never forget, your boss is not your friend!

Fired textile workers call for support!!

500gourdesWe received the following from the Rapid Response Network:

Textile workers in Haiti ask that we pressure H&H sweatshop (where clothing for retailers like Walmart is produced) to rehire the workers who were fired, respect the right to organize, and to pay the wages workers demand. Working class solidarity knows no borders! Workers of the world: unite! Please share widely.

Details here: http://goo.gl/PW0h8l

and here:

» ( Read more of Fired textile workers call for support!!… )

Newsletter July 2016: Fort Lauderdale chapter

Here’s the first newsletter for the Fort Lauderdale chapter of Workers Struggle! It has local news & views about, by, and for working people in our local area. Please reprint and share!

Below are low-res image files for sharing online, and here’s a pdf for printing (use regular 8.5″ x 11″ paper):

Front: WSnewsletter2FINAL-1
Back: WSnewsletter2FINAL-2

If you have submissions for the next one, hit reply and let us know! Are you being mistreated at work? Have an opinion to share? Do you know of working people taking a stand? Let’s help each other expose exploitation and spread a spirit of defiance!

WSnewsletter2FINAL1

WSnewsletter2FINAL-2

NYC Event: Haiti: Imperialist Domination, Occupation and Emancipation: The Working-Class Perspective

july28

We received a notice for an event coming up:

The Batay Ouvriye Solidarity Network invites you to our monthly progressive community
gathering on the occasion of the 101st Anniversary of the first U.S. Occupation of Haiti
(July 28, 1915-July 28, 2016).

Haiti: Imperialist Domination, Occupation and Emancipation: The Working-Class
Perspective

Political Analysis
Refreshments & Debate

Saturday, July 30, 2016 – 6:00 PM

Jan-Jak Desalin Community Hall
836 Rogers Ave, Brooklyn
(between Church Ave and Erasmus St, take #2 train to Church Ave.)

for information call: 516-499-1689bosolidarity@yahoo.com

 

Response to solidarity: statement from garment workers in Haiti

We received this message (original Kreyol is below):

We, the workers organized in PLASIT, (Platform of Garment Industry Unions) we salute all our comrades who took part in the solidarity response against all the illegal reprisals and abuse we have faced at the hands of the garment industry bosses in Haiti and all their associates in the big brand name multinationals. These bosses have decided to fire and repress us for standing up for our rights, while every day we suffer the injustice of their wages of misery.
Your response to pressure these bosses was very useful and greatly appreciated.
We have decided to stay strong and keep up the fight for our right to living wages, good working conditions and the right to organize in our own unions. To achieve this, we have staged many work stoppages. These actions have led the bosses to negotiate the production quotas with us. We have signed agreements in several factories and we are still in negotiations in others. These negotiations will enable some workers to earn more than 500 gourdes daily, depending on how much we produce. These actions also enabled us to uphold our right for our unions to negotiate with the bosses and fight for our collective demands. This is a step forward. But the struggle does not stop here.
We will keep up the fight for 500 gourdes daily along with social subsidies! We will keep up the fight for the reinstatement of all our fired comrades! Our comrades Télémarque Pierre, Clergé Félixon along with 2 other workers at Palm Apparel have not yet been reinstated. They were fired for having taken part in protests to demand an adjustment to the minimum wage by the government. That is why we stand firm: Down with abusive practices from bosses! Down with misery wages! Down with illegal and arbitrary firings!
It’s up to us workers to stand up together everywhere, along with the support of progressives, and fight this exploitation and domination. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Let’s stay strong together! Long Live the International Solidarity of the Working Class!

For PLASIT-BO
Télémarque Pierre
Spokesperson, PLASIT-BO

» ( Read more of Response to solidarity: statement from garment workers in Haiti… )

Garment workers in Haiti: text of press conference June 10

TEXTILE FACTORY UNION PLATFORM

PLASIT-BO

[original Kreyol version is below]

Greetings to our Media Friends, radio, newspaper and television covering the Press Conference that PLASIT-BO is giving today. The objective of this conference is to make known our position after the mobilization we launched since this past April 14 to pressure the government to set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94) at the very least and other accompanying demands. We can say that our mobilization did bear fruit because it impeded the offer of 265 Gourdes (US $4.21) that the capitalists wanted to shove down our throats.

Notwithstanding the fact that we are not satisfied with the Executive Order setting the wage at 300 Gourdes (US $4.76) as reference wage and 350 Gourdes (US $5.56) as minimum wage for workers in production, we recognize this will allow us to negotiate with several capitalists on the question of piece work and force them to pay arrears since May First that they owe us, just as this is being done even today as we speak in CODEVI, Ouanaminthe. In addition, we wrote to the president of the Social Affairs Commission of the two branches of Parliament to express our concerns on the 2009 law, which creates a lot of confusion about two minimum wages existing in the sector; they are playing deaf and are dragging their feet with absenteeism in the parliament, while issues that are sensitive and important to the people are at rest in the drawers.

We are denouncing with all our strength acts of repression perpetrated by capitalists such as Alain Villard and Clifford Apaid against many of our comrades, namely the General Coordinator of SOTA-BO and spokesperson of PLASIT-BO, Telemarque Pierre, and the Assistant Coordinator of a SOTA section in Premium Apparel and two other comrades in Palm Apparel after the day of mobilization on May 11 and May 19, 2016, which PLASIT-BO launched to demand that the government set the minimum wage immediately.

Those capitalists, Clifford Apaid and Alain Villard, are simply defending their own interests, not only as reactionary bourgeois, but also, they act according to the dictate from a US Department of Labor memo sent to them after ADIH, which called us ‘terrorists’, in cahoots with Better Work denounced and condemned the so-called acts of violence they said were perpetrated against property and people on the days of mobilization.

The firings represent hallmarks of anti-union and arbitrary discrimination and retaliation. They want to punish union organizers that stand up to fight for just demands on the pretext of violence on the days of our mobilization. While we are fighting for the reinstatement of our comrades who were victims of the repression of the capitalists, we are continuing to fight for other demands associated with wages such as the social benefits we called for in our mobilization, namely, food subsidies, schools for our children, transportation, and social housing. True, we got a little something with Executive Order on the wage adjustment, but the fight is not over. That is why we demand:

  • Reinstatement of our comrades, Telemarque Pierre, Clerger Felixon, Cadet Mackenzie and Adrien Jean Anslo immediately in their post unconditionally.
  • That the Ministry of Social Affairs launch meetings with the unions, management and the social security institutions to discuss the recommendations that the Supreme Salary Council made in its last report, such as the question of social benefits, and then conclude with a clear resolution to make sure this question is really implemented.
  • The Haitian State should provide a mechanism to relaunch negotiations on the reforms to the Labor Code, because the existing code does not conform to the present reality.
  • The Supreme Salary Council should make plans to start meeting in the month of July in order to be able to make its recommendations in a timely manner in the month of October as it should.
  • The Parliament should make plans to legislate a new law on the minimum wage. The 2009 law is full of confusion and does not conform to today’s reality.
  • The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in particular the Free Trade Zone Administration, should immediately stop dragging its feet on the project to build a cafeteria in CODEVI, since the money is already allocated, so workers can eat in a decent environment.

DOWN WITH CAPITALISTS THAT ARE VIOLATING UNION RIGHTS IN THEIR REPRESSION AGAINST UNIONISTS WHO ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR RIGHTS!

LONG LIVE WORKERS WHO ARE DEMANDING LIVING WAGES AND BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS!

MOBILIZATIONS FOR LIVING WAGES AND UNION RIGHTS WILL CONTINUE MORE BOLDLY!

For PLASIT-BO,

Telemarque Pierre, SOTA-BO

Perrenard REMY, SOKOWA-BO

Port-Au-Prince, June 10, 2016

» ( Read more of Garment workers in Haiti: text of press conference June 10… )

The Fight is Still On!

(A message to a Left Forum panel about working class organizing)

By Chris

birdsI’ve been working full time in the blue collar sector for over 30 years. I have over 20 years in the transportation industry and another 6 on a factory floor, with a few other jobs during my first few years in the labor force.

From early on I started to hear and experience the same grievances and issues coming from coworkers and most other working people I would encounter. It became a recurring theme: low/stagnant wages, forced overtime, not enough time off, unsafe working conditions, and the inability to work and retire with dignity. And I’ve experienced these as well.

On top of that, I’ve watched companies and lawmakers systematically take back what working people have fought so hard for in the past

In the mid-‘90s I became a member of Teamsters and quickly learned I could do something to help. Even if small, it was something. I learned that the fight was still on. That awareness has never left me, and it’s why I continue to do what I can to fight for working class interests.

If anyone is here as a protester or activist for the sake of being a protester or activist, or to gain some notoriety, or to make yourself feel good, we don’t need you!! If you came here to have your picture taken with Michael Moore….go home!! We have no use for anyone who’s here to make a name for themselves or rub elbows with someone they may think has fame. This is real. Our struggle as working people is real and we’re losing ground every day. We need help…. real help to stop the bleeding and reverse the tide.

It seems that many people have given up on the idea that we, the working class, will lead this struggle to end our exploitation. If not the working class, then who? Protesters? Activists? Academics? We can use all the help we can get, but none of the above are facing the kind of exploitation that working people are facing today. We’re still here and we’re losing ground rapidly. 100+ years of struggle and we’re moving backwards! How can that be?

Many of today’s working people are growing frustrated with the state of the unions, corrupt leadership, dwindling membership, lack of participation and the general loss of power that we once fought so hard for. That’s not to say that the labor unions don’t have their place. I’m a union member and still believe we play an important role on the road to emancipation. But many working people are seeking an alternative, some way to go beyond what today’s unions are able to accomplish. There must be an alternative, otherwise we stagnate in our current state… working hard and getting nowhere!

About a year and a half ago I was involved with trying to organize a terminal at Con-way Freight. This move was inspired by a single terminal in Laredo, TX who blindsided the company and voted for union representation.

Over the course of the next several months two other terminals voted for representation. The threat of a large scale organizing movement had corporate running scared. They issued a video to each terminal practically begging for another chance. They claimed that they now heard us, and they were willing to address our issues – as long as we stopped our organizing campaign.

We received substantial raises, changes to our disciplinary policies, and local management were instructed to back off. It was quite an achievement for just a threat. Unfortunately, even though some organizing efforts continue, for the most part they have come to a halt. Many of the workers decided to give the company another chance, and within a year Con-way Freight was sold to XPO Logistics, the second largest LTL carrier in the country.

But this experience convinced me that if we are able to make such drastic changes from a mere threat, imagine what we could do if truly organized!! We can go far beyond winning a few temporary concessions from one company or another. That’s why it’s so important that we as a class, the working class, must organize together on a large scale. By organizing, and remaining militant, and autonomous, not letting anyone use us for some other agenda, we can achieve the power necessary to free ourselves from the exploitation we face every day. Only we, the working people, can do this for ourselves.

I want to say something about why I prefer the phrase “working people” instead of “workers.” To me the word “worker” has a similar feel as the word “slave.” A “good worker” is an obedient wage slave. It’s a condition we want to free ourselves from. In most cases, the one who achieves the “good worker” status is usually the person who out-preforms their coworkers. The ones who conform, and blindly do what they’re told. The ones whose loyalty favors the company rather than their coworkers. The sad part is many working people buy into this and wear it a badge of honor. This is how companies divide their work force. By pitting us against each other: you didn’t stay an extra 3 hours so somehow you must be weak or not dedicated.

I do good work but I’m rarely called a “good worker,” for which I’m glad. I’m usually considered more of a troublemaker. There was a time workers were feared. That needs to be restored!!! WE are the ones generating 100s of millions even billions of dollars for a chosen few. A company can operate without a CEO or COO, but it cannot operate without a work force!! We hold all the cards!!!

We’re In This Together!!

We in Workers Struggle and working people in the US and Canada support textile workers in Haiti, members of the Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO), who are fighting for the minimum wage and the right to organize.

We are watching how companies and political agencies and NGOs are putting obstacles in front of workers who are struggling for a better life. Similar outrages are perpetrated upon us – often at the hands of these same multinational companies and institutions, and their allies!

Workers around the world suffer while a small minority gets rich by exploiting us. We need to reach our hands across the borders they created, and start coordinating our struggles. If we stand together, these companies won’t be able to keep pushing us into their “race to the bottom,” forcing us to compete for the lowest pay. Instead, we need to force them to pay at least a living wage to all workers, everywhere!

We demand:

* Premium factory: No retaliation against union organizers! Rehire Telemarque Pierre!
* Gildan and other global brands: Make sure the factories you contract with—everywhere—pay workers what they are due, and treat workers with dignity!
* Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor of Haiti: Concede to workers’ demands for a minimum wage of 500 gourdes!

Workers of Haiti, we stand in solidarity with you in our common fight. As we support your struggle, our best contribution is to build a strong, autonomous, militant working class movement of our own, in the belly of the beast. That is our goal!

Signed,

WorkersStruggle-Fort Lauderdale
WorkersStruggle-Miami
WorkersStruggle-Sudbury, Ontario

Call for Solidarity: Demand Reinstatement of Union Organizer in Haiti

We received the following call for international solidarity from Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO). Please take action, and send solidarity statements to the workers (info below). Kreyol original is behind the cut.

Textile workers mobilize for the minimum wage May 11, 2016 in Port-au-Prince.

Textile workers mobilize for the minimum wage May 11, 2016 in Port-au-Prince.

Following the day of mobilization on May 11, 2016 that the Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO) launched to demand that the government set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday) and publish an Executive Order to make it official immediately, Clifford Apaid, owner of the plant, Premium Apparel, made the decision to fire our comrade, Telemarque Pierre, General Coordinator of Apparel and Textile Workers Union (SOTA-BO) and spokesperson for PLASIT, on Saturday May 14, 2016.

The firing is an act of repression, which is not a surprise to us after we learned of the declarations of capitalist organizations such as ADIH (Haitian Industrialists Association), Better Work and USDOL (United States Department of Labor). They are united to denounce and condemn acts of violence they claim to have been committed against property and people during the day of mobilization. After these declarations of war, we knew the bosses were going to retaliate against us, workers, who are fighting to change our lives.

We denounce the repression against our comrade. We say, “an injury to one is injury to all of us.” We’re calling on our friends and comrades, brothers and sisters in national and international organizations to demand the reinstatement of Telemarque Pierre in his post immediately.

To do so, contact the companies and agencies below :

Premium Apparel (factory): premium@agacorp.com

Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST), Haiti : maffairesocial@yahoo.fr

***

In addition, you can contact the following:

AGA Corporation (Premium is its subsidiary):
7209 NW 41 St., Miami, FL 33166-6711
305-592-1860

Gildan (the international clothing brand that contracts with Premium):
Jason M. Greene, Director of Supply Chain: 843-606-3750
Corporate office (Montreal): 514-735-2023; toll free 866-755-2023; info@gildan.com
Customer Service (Charleston, SC): 843-606-3600
Twitter: @GildanOnline; facebook.com/GildanOnline/

Use #RehirePierre #SolidarityForever #500Gourdes

Send statements of solidarity directly to the textile workers, and let them know of your activities: batay@batayouvriye.org

» ( Read more of Call for Solidarity: Demand Reinstatement of Union Organizer in Haiti… )

This Thursday 5/19: Textile Workers in Haiti Pledge to Mobilize Against Repression!!

May11b

[Kreyol original below]

Management has begun a repression campaign following the day of mobilization on May 11, 2016 by the Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO) to demand that the government set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday) and publish an Executive Order to make it official immediately.  The general coordinator of the Apparel and Textile Workers Union-Batay Ouvriye (SOTA-BO) and spokesperson of PLASIT, Telemarque Pierre, has been fired on Saturday May 14, 2016 with no motive given. This act of repression is not a surprise to us coming from the factory boss, Clifford Apaid. He’s simply acting on his interest not only as a reactionary bourgeois, but also, acting in accordance to the dictates of his masters in United States Department of Labor (U.S.D.O.L.). Capitalist organizations such as ADIH (Haitian Industrialists Association) in mesh with Better Work and U.S. Department of Labor are united to denounce and condemn acts of violence they claim to have been committed against property and people during the day of mobilization.

Cheaply said  but badly thought out.  Just as May 11, we have become aware that it is through our COLLECTIVE STRUGGLES WE WILL WRESTLE OUR RIGHTS UNDER THE WEIGHT OF CAPITALISTS, THE HAITIAN STATE AND THEIR IMPERIALIST MASTERS. We, the workers, know very well, “an injury to one is injury to all of us in the working class.” Where were ADIH, USDOL and Better Work for the eight (8) months that nothing was said about our minimum wage ?

Mobilization of textile workers, May 11, 2016, Port-au-Prince

Mobilization of textile workers, May 11, 2016, Port-au-Prince

All of these ravings are a declaration of war against us, workers, who are fighting for a living wage allowing for a better life for our children. They are speaking of violence without thinking about the violence we are subjected to everyday in not being paid a living wage to meet our basic needs such as feeding our children, paying rent, having health insurance even as we work so hard. This is the violence capitalists are perpetrating against us, workers, while the institutions, national as well as international, and the Haitian State, have said nothing against that. They all keep their mouths shut.

It should have been clear to the bosses and their allies, “hungry dogs don’t play!” They are responsible for the conditions that forced us to take to the streets to scream for help so they  give us a minimum wage of at least 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday). Neither ADIH, Better Work nor USDOL can understand the extreme violence against us when we cannot feed our children dinner everyday after work. We are forced to go and borrow 20 gourdes ($0.32) in order to give our children sweetened water to drink. They are using a few isolated incidents committed during the living wage mobilization to confuse the issue and make the victims appear to be the bullies. In this way, they can launch a repression campaign or take sanctions against union leaders.

That is why we say : The firing of our comrade will not be tolerated. All employers who wish to use the dictates of USDOL to intimidate us, make us afraid to continue to organize or mobilize, we are telling them, WE WILL NOT OBEY! The Fight for social justice will continue! Our comrade is fired for his union activities, demanding a living wage. Union activities such as strikes and marching cannot be motives to fire a union leader. The firing of our comrade is an act of repression, intimidation and interference in the fundamental rights of workers to organize concerted activities to defend their economic and social interests.

We demand the reinstatement of our comrade, Telemarque Pierre, immediately! Why should he lose his job just because he was doing union business for demands of a collective nature? We disagree with the minimum wage of 265 Gourdes ($4.21) the ADIH employers are pushing for. We will not be intimidated nor give up in this fight. The mobilization for a minimum wage of $500 Gourdes and other demands will continue with more vigor! We will rally on Thursday May 19, 2016 to continue our mobilization in front of SONAPI and march to the National Palace.

DOWN WITH REACTIONARY ADIH BOSSES WHO ARE PULLING STRINGS TO STOP US FROM GETTING THIS MEASLY MINIMUM WAGE !

FORWARD WITH THE STRUGGLE OF FACTORY WORKERS WHO DEMAND 500 GOURDES ($7.94) AS MINIMUM WAGE !

THE STRUGGLE HAS JUST BEGUN!

PLASIT-BO/MAY 16, 2016

» ( Read more of This Thursday 5/19: Textile Workers in Haiti Pledge to Mobilize Against Repression!!… )

Workers Shut Down SONAPI Industrial Park in Haiti, Demanding Wages

http://www.vantbefinfo.com/haitieconomietension-des-ouvriers-de-la-sous-traitance-reclament-le-respect-du-salaire-minimum/

A news report by Vant Bef Info, May 11, 2016. Translation by Google Translate, slightly edited [original French below]:

9:30 am

Workers of subcontracting firms currently begin (9:30 am) a work stoppage followed by a sit-in outside the offices of the National Society of Industrial Parks (SONAPI) at the airport road, Vant Bef Info learned.

The initiative came from the employees of manufacturing companies located on the airport road, who headed to SONAPI to find the solidarity of other workers.

The protesters are demanding five hundred (500) gourdes as minimum wage and require, among other things, compliance with legal provisions relating to this issue.

All activities are suspended at SONAPI, businesses doors are closed. As the workers demonstrated, agents of the National Police of Haiti appeared on the scene.

There are tensions at times, and vehicular traffic is very difficult in the area of SONAPI.

» ( Read more of Workers Shut Down SONAPI Industrial Park in Haiti, Demanding Wages… )

Statement from garment workers in Haiti on May First

BOlogoSquare[Kreyol original is below]

TEXTILE PLANT UNION PLATFORM

PLASIT-BO (Textile Plant Union Platform – Workers Fight)

TO COMMEMORATE MAY FIRST 2016, WE SAY: WE WON’T OBEY!

MayDay is not “Day of Agriculture and Labor.” It is a day to commemorate the struggles of workers on the planet. To celebrate agriculture and labor is to celebrate a collaboration where workers are forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the bourgeois bosses and the latifundistas together with representatives of the reactionary government. That’s an all-out effort to prevent us from  commemorating what MAYDAY represents for workers all over the world. They say it’s day of agriculture and labor while there is no real policy for the development of agricultural production or investments to create decent jobs at the very least in the country.

MAYDAY is the commemoration of this gigantic FIGHT THE WORKING CLASS throughout the world carried out in 1886 to achieve an 8-hour workday among other demands. Facing off the bourgeois and their reactionary state, this FIGHT began in the city of Chicago in the United States. Quickly, it spread throughout the country. Then a year later, it covered the whole planet. The reactionaries killed workers and laborers, lynched some of them and deported many others. However, the working class fought back also. They struggled and hit back an eye-for-an-eye. There were even special combat organizations, mass mobilizations, FIGHTS everywhere, for a long time. Finally, the bourgeoisie together with their reactionary state conceded to the workers demand for the 8-hour workday for their earned wages.  Haiti is one of a few countries on the planet which does not acknowledge this date and tries to claim it to co-opt workers into class collaboration with the bourgeois bosses. Today, we see through the maneuvers and games of the State where even the governments that claim to be “progressive” show the same reactionary attitude of deviation-cooptation.

That is why PLASIT-BO says: WE WON’T OBEY! We will always wage OUR INDEPENDENT STRUGGLES in the commemoration of MAYDAY. So, in OUR INDEPENDENT MOBILIZATION, in Port-Au-Prince as well as Au Cap, Caracol, and Ouanaminthe, we are raising our immediate demands, namely:

  • A living wage to meet the needs of our children, our families and ourselves. We demand 500 gourdes ($7.94) a day at the very least without increasing the quotas, and other social benefits ;
  • Good working conditions and respect for our union rights to defend our interests ;
  • A new Labor Code that protects all categories of workers against exploitation and humiliation ;
  • A social security system that protects us against line-of-duty accidents, illnesses, maternity and old age based on a real social protection net in the country ;
  • Comprehensive agrarian reform and technical support for peasants and other laborers in the rural areas ;
  • The country to regain its sovereignty to choose its own economic model to create wealth and decent and sustainable work in our territory. And for the State to guarantee a decent living conditions for workers and laborers and their families on the basis of the wealth creation. Therefore, the State must guarantee the social and economic rights of all workers against all national and international capitalists so they don’t step on those rights.

Today, the imperialists, the bourgeoisie and their reactionary State are attempting to disorient our minds on the fraudulent elections; those elections that aggravated the deep structural crisis in the country. Today, the economy is in deep trouble; interference/stewardship and the MINUSTAH military occupation is growing rapidly and threatens our sovereignty as a nation. Therefore, we should not continue to obey this decaying social order. We, workers, laborers, the popular masses in general, to achieve real change in our lives, in the country in general, we must continue to focus on  our true interests firmly so we can contribute to the development of a gigantic movement of uprising that will pave the way for a new Haiti.

LET’S COME TOGETHER TO DEFEND OUR INTERESTS!

AGAINST THE BOURGEOIS VIOLATING OUR RIGHTS AND THEIR REACTIONARY STATE!

ONLY A GENREAL MOBILLIZATION WILL HELP US EMERGE FROM THE HOLE WE ARE IN!

LONG LIVE THE WORKING CLASS WORLDWIDE!

May First 2016

  » ( Read more of Statement from garment workers in Haiti on May First… )

For May Day 2016, Workers and Laborers Say: WE WILL NOT OBEY!

[A statement from PLASIT-BO, Textile Plant Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight), in Haiti. Kreyol original is below.]

WE FIGHT FOR :

  • A living wage to meet the needs of our children, our families and ourselves. We demand 500 gourdes ($7.94) a day at the very least without increasing the quotas, and other social benefits ;
  • Good working conditions and respect for our union rights to defend our interests ;
  • A new Labor Code that protects all categories of workers against exploitation and humiliation ;
  • A social security system that protects us against line-of-duty accidents, illnesses, maternity and old age based on a real social protection net in the country ;
  • Comprehensive agrarian reform and technical support for peasants and other laborers in the rural areas ;
  • The country to regain its sovereignty to choose its own economic model to create wealth and work in our territory.

TEXTILE PLANT UNION PLATFORM (PLASIT-BO) INVITES ALL WORKERS AND LABORERS IN ALL SECTORS, POOR PEASANTS, THE UNEMPLOYED, STUDENTS, SERIOUS MILITANTS TO A DEMONSTRATION ON SUNDAY MAY 1ST, 2016 TO COMMEMORATE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY.

WE ARE RALLYING AT 9 :00 A.M. IN FRONT OF THE INDUSTRIAL PARK (SONAPI) TO START THE MARCH ALONG THE AIRPORT ROAD, AROUND DELMA 18, PEYAN ROAD, BEL-AIR, AND TO REACH CHAMPS-DE-MARS.

THIS MAYDAY, WE ARE TAKING THE STREETS TO DEMAND OUR RIGHTS THAT ARE VIOLATED. WE STOP OBEYING THE EXPLOITING RULING CLASSES AND DISHONEST POLITICIANS ! LONG LIVE THE WORKERS AND LABORERS EVERYWHERE ! WE ARE THE ONES WHO CAN BREAK THE CHAINS BINDING OUR FEET !

PLASIT-BO

*** » ( Read more of For May Day 2016, Workers and Laborers Say: WE WILL NOT OBEY!… )

Textile Workers Mobilize in Haiti for Minimum Wage Adjustment — Press Conference

Press Conference on April 14, 2016

Greetings to all our media friends, print as well as television, that come to provide coverage for the conference that PLASIT, which is Textile Plants Union Platform, to launch the mobilization for the minimum wage adjustment for the year 2015-2016. In PLASIT, we notice that 8 months following the beginning of the fiscal year, the Supreme Salary Council finally made recommendations to the government just as it did for the past 2 years. Thus, the Council has adopted a bad habit of not respecting what is stated in Article 4.1 in the Law of 2009 on the minimum wage.

 

In the Supreme Salary Council, it’s mainly delaying tactics and plots going on. Management and the two so-called union representatives in the Council are dragging their feet so that management may continue to steal several months of workers’ wages. So, management will have more leeway to continue to pay workers measly wages. The 8-month delay is in the interest of management while prices of all basic items are going up and the Social Affairs Ministry does not urge them to respect Article 137 of the Labor Code stipulating that when the inflation rates increases more than 10%, workers’ wages must be adjusted. Today, the inflation rate has reached more than 14.5%. Therefore, the plot against the interests of workers has been consolidated.

 

We learn that the Council, after 8 months of delaying tactics, proposed a minimum wage of reference of 300 gourdes ($4.76) and the minimum wage for production to be 400 gourdes ($6.35) a day for the textile sector. It’s clear the 300/400gourdes will not solve our problems, especially with the increase in the cost of living, and our purchasing power is plummeting and the value of the gourdes is decreasing in relation to the dollar. For us, at the very least, the minimum wage should be500 gourdes ($7.94) to 1,000 gourdes ($15.87). However, management and their stool-pigeons in the state who get their orders from foreign donors say this will make Haiti non-competitive with other countries. We are denouncing these plot-laden arguments on the backs of workers spilling their blood in the factories.

» ( Read more of Textile Workers Mobilize in Haiti for Minimum Wage Adjustment — Press Conference… )

The Wage Struggle is Not Simply for a Higher Amount, but Against Exploitation

Report from Garment Workers, CODEVI Free Trade Zone, Ouanaminthe, Haiti

April 9, 2016

For the past 2/3 weeks at the CODEVI plant, there has been a wave of mobilization for wage adjustments.  Workers who sew T-shirt hemlines at the MD factory stood up to demand more money for the quota they were asked to do. They had a two-day strike.

This week, the workers who sew jean pants waists at the AM1 plant rose up to demand wage adjustments also.

After their first day of strike, CODEVI fired seven of them. It was when the workers returned, they found out that security agents stopped the seven from re-entering the factory. That activated a second day of strike in solidarity with the fired workers. The workers were in the factory already. However, when they learned that seven of them were fired (two fired based on article 42, and five fired based on article 37), they began to mobilize inside the plant. So the other factories joined in.

 

After lunch, the workers didn’t return to the plant but instead took to the streets in Ouanaminthe to protest and voice their demands.

They chanted all kinds of slogans. Some demanded wage increases, others demanded the return of the ONA insurance moneys taken from them each payroll (this is pension money). Problem is that the workers don’t see the necessity to put money away in a pension fund for later in life. They have no confidence in ONA insurance as a public institution. They protested on the streets of Ouanaminthe until they reached the offices of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. In the negotiations that began, there was an agreement on quotas. But there was no change in articles 42 and 37 for the 2 fired workers. This was what motivated the workers to take the mobilization to the streets to denounce CODEVI for the decision to fire the 7 workers and the question of wages or quotas they are forced to do.

Following this great demonstration of strength on the part of the workers, as they returned the next day, CODEVI agreed to:

» ( Read more of The Wage Struggle is Not Simply for a Higher Amount, but Against Exploitation… )

Report Back: Organizers Hit the Streets, a Distribution Center in south Florida

One morning of March 2016 a couple of organizers with Workers Struggle hit the streets of south Florida to reach workers who we heard are very unhappy, overworked and could use some help from the outside to jump-start an organized struggle.  Organizers targeted a very large supermarket distribution hub/warehouse with leaflets for the upcoming May Day 2016 event.

This was the second time to hit this location after the first time, a week prior, security guards on golf cart rolled up on organizers handing out leaflets and asked them to leave as they were on “private property.” This time organizers stood at the street on the public sidewalk and passed leaflets to cars driving in and out at their shift changed discovered to be ~6am when the influx of traffic hit.

Organizers approached cars saying, “I have an invitation for a free movie showing about a group of workers who organized themselves for higher wages and better conditions. We hear things are bad in here and we want to come together with you to learn what we can do and how to organize”

A couple of different workers separately said emphatically “YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE”. More than one called it “Legalized Slavery” and many sympathized with the need for more money for wage and better conditions overall.

One worker said, “you see what time it is? I got here at [X time] yesterday, this is slavery in here!!” Looking at the clock, that meant he just worked a 16 hour shift. He yelled, “call the news! we need help!” as they drove off in a long van with ~7 workers inside.  Presumably, a transport service provided by the contract labor agencies.

Another worker who exited the bus at the bus stop in front of the facility said, “there’s about 5 different bossmen operating in there” (bossmen meaning companies, he said), and “you get paid a set amount per day (presumably for 8 hrs of work) but usually we work 12-16 hours for that amount.” He said there’s some fellows working on suing the company and he is hopeful that will force them to change.  We implored him to join us on May Day to learn how we can build momentum together in organizing that goes even beyond a potential lawsuit.

Several workers said they will be there on May Day event, if they are off work.

Statements denouncing abuse of landless peasants in Corail, Haiti

The folowing was sent to us from Batay Ouvriye. On March 11, Batay Ouvriye took part in a press conference with JILAP to denounce the abuse against landless peasants in Corail, 5th Section Delice, Arcahaie at the hands of communal authorities in the area. Following are the statements made by three organizations at the press conference [Kreyol originals follow English translations]:

Statement of Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight):

We, members of Batay Ouvriye, we are present at the table, first of all, because the organization of landless peasants laborers in Corail (OPTK) is an organization of Batay Ouvriye Arcahaie. We are denouncing the anti-organization character of all State authorities in the country, all the misdeeds and abuse imposed on Organized peasants and laborers at the hands of the three communal members, 5th Section, Delice, in the Arcahaie Commune, in particular a communal official called Joseph Pierre Rene.

They fear independent peasant laborers’ independent organizations, they cannot corrupt them in small NGO projects; the organized peasant laborers take courage in their two hands to raise and demand that what’s happening in the section be done according to their rights and interests. This is why Batay Ouvriye calls on the peasant laborer organizers to continue to consolidate their organizational work and actions that put forward their interests despite attempts from some to make them afraid. Batay Ouvriye will be present in a course of action to bring those bully communal officials to justice.

Long Live the struggle of the all organized Peasant Laborers in the country!

DOWN WITH A STATE POWER THAT SUPPORTS CRIMINAL STATE OFFICIALS!

» ( Read more of Statements denouncing abuse of landless peasants in Corail, Haiti… )

Landless peasants in Haiti denounce violence committed against them

PressConferenceMarch 11, 2016

Today, three representatives from the Landless Peasant Organization in Corail (OPTK) together with Justice and Peace organized a press conference to denounce the abuse and injustice imposed on them by the Administrative Council of Communal Section, 5th Section Delis, Arcahaie. Justice and Peace (JILAP) often works together with Batay Ouvriye in many different resistance and mobilization in Arcahaie.

In many rural areas in the country, administrative council members and other authorities supporting them, are assaulting small peasants who own a small lot or nothing at all (day laborers, agri-workers…) to steal their land or expel them from state-owned land they’ve occupied for years, or to dominate them as agri-workers who will work for multinationals soon to come in line with the imperialist plans to swamp us.

The Arcahaie examples show the LOGIC of the neo-liberal capitalist penetration that the imperialists want to push down the throats of workers, laborers, and the popular masses in general… with the help of Big Eaters and puppets of all stripes. This penetration is repressive, and violent. For that, just as the state leadership, there are repressive acts on the laborers.

The Arcahaie example is one, but there is a myriad of such acts in all rural areas in the country. THE STRUGGLE IS EVERYWHERE!  It is necessary for all comrades, laborers of every kind, progressives, and all combatants…to see clearly that the penetration is happening throughout the country. Against all of us!

THE STRUGGLE HAS JUST BEGUN!

Kreyol original text is below.

» ( Read more of Landless peasants in Haiti denounce violence committed against them… )

From factory workers in Haiti on International Working Women’s Day

The following leaflet was distributed in front of the SONAPI industrial park (with textile and garment factories) for March 8:

Click here to see a brief video.

IMG_9321Comrades in the textile factories and other laborers:

 

March 8, 1910 – March 8, 2016 makes 106 years since Clara Zetkin, a German militant woman who had fire in her spirit, proposed a day to commemorate the struggles that women, the factory workers and laborers in general, carried out to change their working and living conditions. March 8th was chosen to remember the great strike that textile workers had in the year 1857 in the United States for better wages, working conditions and other rights such as voting rights for women in elections.

 

Therefore, March 8th is rooted in the struggles that working class women led.

Today, what is our reality as working class women in the factories? Where are we on the road to the emancipation of women everywhere on Earth? In our case, in the factories, we have some mileage to go yet. We are experiencing sexual harassment from the male supervisors and managers just to have a little bit more money to pay our rents or to pay food peddlers we owe. When we are pregnant, we go through great hardships. There are no chairs for us to rest our backs, no breaks for the two daily rest periods, no lunch period; they still fire us for being pregnant at work, no time to feed our babies as the Labor Code requires. They force us to wait until we give birth to pay us maternity leave. Except for one industrial park in the country, there is no nursery for our infants when we work.

 

So, the whole load of exploitation in the factories, and housework, is with our children on our backs. As women, we are fathers and mothers for our children. Our wages do not reflect the family needs.

 

March 8 is a day for us to reflect on all those questions concerning working class women and to make a commitment to change this situation we are facing together with other workers like us. It’s a day for us to take a resolution to enter the struggle to liberate ourselves as exploited women, in the great struggle to break the exploitation and domination by the bourgeoisie and their allies and really change the country. Thus, we shall have better living wages, health care or social services, conditions we are lacking as working class women today. For these reasons, workers must come into the struggle for real liberation and emancipation of society.

 

This is what the commemoration of this day, March 8th,requires of us; it’s not just a question of saying to women, ‘Happy March 8th;’ it’s a day of commemoration of the struggles of exploited and dominated working class women! Let’s stand up behind our demands!

LONG LIVE THE INDEPENDENT STRUGGLES OF WORKING CLASS WOMEN FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN AND MEN!

LONG LIVE THE STRUGGLES OF THE WORKING CLASS WORLDWIDE!

MARCH 8, 2016

IMG_2541

The original leaflet in Kreyol:

Kanmarad Ouvriye/Ouvriyèz nan faktori rad yo ak lòt Travayè/Travayèz,

» ( Read more of From factory workers in Haiti on International Working Women’s Day… )

Upcoming Events

Join us on April 30 and May 1 to celebrate May Day! This inspiring film will be followed by discussion about how we can do in Fort Lauderdale what these restaurant workers did in New York — organize and fight back together!

MayDay5both

13 Demands of Workers and Laborers for Haiti’s Transitional Government

STATEMENT FROM MAY FIRST UNION FEDERATION/WORKERS FIGHT

ENTE-SENDIKAL PREMYE ME/BATAY OUVRIYE      

FEBRUARY 7, 2016

(Kreyol version is below)

Today, February 7, 2016, we, workers, peasants, laborers in diverse economic categories in the country, raise our voices to warn that we will not continue to accept the conditions of life allotted to us. Since the big mobilization that ousted the repressive government that took away our rights in 1986, we hoped for changes in our conditions of life and work. However, unfortunately, our situation has worsened! In 2016, we continue to be under such a crisis that keeps us from seeing where our country is heading. But with our determination, we will continue to fight; we will continue to resist against all political maneuvers and threats pointing at our heads to take away our rights as workers.

As to where this big political crisis brings us today, the word of the day is ‘transition.’ We say, during the short time it will last, the roadmap of the transitional government must take into account the demands of the workers, peasants, and laborers in the formal economy, private and public, in the informal sector in urban and rural areas, so they can breathe. Among other things, we demand that the transitional government:

  1. Take measures to lower the cost of living, and the country should be put on the path to national production. The inflation rate at 12.5% is gobbling up the measly income we acquire in hardship or in other activities that barely help our families survive.
  1. Increase the base minimum salary for all categories of workers and set up a multi-sectorial tripartite entity to propose a social benefits program such as for food, transportation, housing, schools for our children or for ourselves. There must be a salary grid with a career ladder for public sector workers, and a social protection program which allows workers in the informal sector to benefit from a social security plan.
  1. Pay wages due to all public school teachers, teachers in the PSUGO program (Free Universal and Mandatory School Program) and all public sector workers.
  1. Challenge the impunity that management enjoys in violating the rights of workers in the factories, laborers in the production establishments for local markets, in government jobs, in the service and commercial sectors to form unions.

» ( Read more of 13 Demands of Workers and Laborers for Haiti’s Transitional Government… )

Organized Textile Workers in Haiti Call for Taking the Streets

INTERVENTION by PLASIT-BO

(Platfòm Sendikal Izin Tekstil – Batay Ouvriye / Platform of Textile Plant Unions – Workers Fight)  –
PRESS CONFERENCE, JANUARY 21, 2016

PLASIT takes notice that it’s been three years since the Supreme Wage Council was created and it has not respected Article 4.1 of the 2009 Wage Law. The Council always makes its recommendations too late every year while the executive also never publish the decisions based on the council’s recommendations at the beginning of the fiscal year in October. They usually wait eight months to adjust the minimum wage either for textile workers and laborers in other sectors. Again, it’s been five months and no recommendations have been made. Its foot-dragging and delaying tactics going on without taking into account the cost of living is rising because of the devaluation of the gourde. In addition, the government substantially increases the presidential security budget and doubles the incomes of the provisional electoral council members who are organizing sham elections pushing the country into political crisis. So, those who are destroying the country are awarded while those who are creating wealth with their blood and sweat get nothing.

In this situation, PLASIT is denouncing firmly the delaying and absentee tactics of management in the supreme wage council; the government representative presiding over the council has not taken responsibility in demanding that management send in a substitute to stop the absentee tactic leading to the failure to adjust the minimum wage in a timely manner. Here we cannot forget some union representatives in the council are in cahoots with the bosses. So, we feel trapped!

Considering the prices of basic items don’t stop rising everyday where the economic and social situation of the country has gotten worse because of the grave political crisis rocking it. This causes the popular masses, and the workers in particular to be lost. We are reminding the wage council, it was since October First the wages were adjusted as stated in the 2009 Law. This time, we are not waiting eight months again to get the wage increase. Besides, Article 137 of the Labor Code stipulates when the inflation rate increases by 10%, the minimum wage must be adjusted. Today, the inflation rate is at 12%, the council has made no recommendations to help the workers and laborers breathe.

We should say that there are union representatives who have suggested a minimum wage increase of 375 gourdes ($6.25) a day and 475 gourdes ($7.92) a day as the production wage for textile workers. As such, management proposes in a subtle way a minimum wage of 255 gourdes. In PLASIT, we think those two proposals don’t meet the needs of the workers considering the socio-economic reality today. The owner of the corpse must watch the corpse!

» ( Read more of Organized Textile Workers in Haiti Call for Taking the Streets… )

Democrats and Republicans: Nothing like the Good Ol’ One-Two Punch

Democrat and Republican Parties as Collaborationists Against the Working Class by Joseph Harmon and Izzi Creo

The False-Dichotomy of the Democrat and Republican Parties for the Working Class

 

Joseph Harmon, who works in the energy industry and unionized with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, shared the following on Facebook and gave permission to share with the above cartoon, as was inspired by his post:

Republican Party Agenda:

  • destroy middle class
  • hide behind the bible
  • make everyone poor
  • bitch about people being poor
  • hate each other especially women
  • destroy the earth
  • want ‘illegals’ here to exploit
  • have a big military budget to help out their donors
  • hate their own family
  • hide behind the bible
  • use abortion to control the poor
  • lying pieces of shit

Democrat Party Agenda:

  • if we don’t believe in it, we try to outlaw it.
  • wants religious freedom, but only in churches and homes
  • thinks creating laws solve problems
  • the only gun you need is the one in your pants.
  • we say we like unions, but we truly don’t give a fuck because we want lobbyist money in our pocket
  • pretend to be environmentalist until we get paid off
  • want ‘illegals’ here to vote for them
  • we want to take care of the veterans but we want to gut the military budget
  • want religious freedom but want not in public
  • we hate gay people, too, but want their vote
  • lying pieces of shit

Oh I’m sure I could spend a lifetime making this list but something has to change.


Workers Struggle emphatically agrees with Joseph Harmon; something has to change.

BY IZZI CREO
Surplus Value is Theft
Rooted in our interest as the working class, the half-baked offerings presented by the Republican and Democrat (or is that the Democrans and Republicrats?) parties are clear: while their rhetoric is wildly insulting it all amounts to nothing more than a false-dichotomy raining in rapid succession on the backs of the working-class, like the good ol’ one-two. Making it rain surplus-value straight to the pockets of the capitalists! Cha-ching $$$ (Who needs exclamation marks when you have dollar signs in your zombied-eyes?)

punchy kittyOur present condition needs naming and reporting on: We are Under Attack.  It is an outright onslaught by capital’s domination and we are floundering under current forms of leadership! Think: Republican/Democrat parties are even trying to slide Bernie Sanders in and calling him a socialist (not true), unions now are businesses themselves, non-profits and their well-meaning “professional activists” slowly but methodically are taking over the role of public-services leaving the tax base to fund the militarization of police and the military operations globally. There is no denying it and naming our antagonizer is powerful.

Our current mode of production and stage of history is capitalism (/imperialism, which is the stage of capital where it’s expansion for domination has reached the global level, hence “China’s taking our jobs.”) These relations of forces (because capitalism is defined by the organization of social relationships, not really a “system”) have not delivered on their mighty-promises that worked to subdue us for the taking, in prior-decades.  And now everyone’s looking around wondering, what happened? We took our guard down and became defenseless because we became “individuals”. We lost the celebration of our individuality amongst ourselves as a class, we allowed our unions to become businesses, allowed the two-parties to define political life for us (go vote!, and don’t talk about politics – it’s too ‘divisive’), we allowed right-to-work laws to spread across the country, we allowed non-profits to explode and we bought into this illusion that we no longer need to be engaged in political life because we can get paid to change the world. WE ABANDONED SOLIDARITY and let the capitalists take over, just like a good host to a parasite. In other words, we by and large aligned with Francis Fukuyama’s declaration that we have reached “The End of History.” And, for the worse.  But it is not too late.

The two parties are not just bought and paid for and created by the capitalist class, but the electoral politics and the two-parties structurally, in their fundamentals, cannot ever include the deep interest of workers as a class, nor our democratic and fundamental objectives, nor the advancement of history. The minimal ways that it has seemed any minor improvements have been due to the Democrat/Republican leadership is offensively just a slight of hand. The truth is, the Democrats have repeatedly come to take ownership of the demands irreconcilable otherwise that were born out of the struggles and organized demands made by the working class itself.

We do not see a future under the leadership of these parties or the capitalist class itself because at it’s core is the economic mandate: accumulate and expand capital by any means necessary (read: Make a Profit\extract surplus value.) This means they are unable to take us forward: i.e. Trans-Pacific Partnership anyone?!

Reformism will not relieve this vice-grip squeeze and they both prove this mounting-ly so every single day with the distractions and theatrics we have been reduced to encapsulate as a whole as “politics.”  We are worth far more than the Bread and Circuses being served up!

Alternatively, Workers Struggle’s position is on constructing autonomous working class organizations, lead by workers ourselves. We do not need any bureaucrat or “representative” to tell us the path forward! We, indeed, have all that we need amongst us to advance our class interest, which is part and parcel of what will advance history, too.  The task is: get this parasite of our being!!

It is only the autonomous struggle of workers in organizations and it’s processes that can wield a reckoning to the bosses and phony-representatives alike, to envisage a path forward as we face a horizon event (climate crisis, refugee crises, unemployment crises, rapid rising costs of living.)

The capitalist owned mass-media once again is forewarning that we are well overdue for yet another round of bust-crises (who felt the ‘boom’?), which is a characteristic of capitalism’s ineptness to advance history, where a major bust is expected every five years or so.  They call it the ‘business cycle’ or the ‘boom-bust cycle’, in capitalist economics. Yes, it is understood and in-built that these major busts will come along every few years, and who do you think takes the hit in those busts?  Working class people lose their homes, retirements, jobs, hope for a future – every time and in that process, capital is consolidated into fewer and fewer hands, each and every cycle. It is only the organized and autonomous working-class, through waging struggle to overcome that can break this vicious cycle for good.  There is no better time than now for solidarity, organizations, and most importantly class-AUTONOMY, my fellow sister and brother-workers.

The autonomous struggles of the working class are simply struggles waged by workers, collectively, stripped of the degenerate stain of individualism plaguing us like a fog to achieve our democratic and fundamental objectives.

It is only the leadership of an autonomous working class movement which can offer us an alternative truly free from bourgeois influence (i.e. opportunism, populism and all the other vestiges of the stifling individualist bourgeois nature) and finally stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity to bear witness and unify all the dominated classes towards defeating capital’s domination.  This must be pursued without class collaboration, it is only then we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with each other in solidarity rooted in our common cause and interest.  Just as the Chamber of Commerce would never invite workers to their internal meetings, we too must not include our antagonizer to our internal work.  With these principles, we will we lead the way…

“I have come to build a bridge,
so come let’s build,
build, build, build.”
           ~ Nahko & Medicine for the People


 

Workers Struggle asks you, what ways do you see the Democrat and Republican parties
showing their good cop/bad cop collaboration strategy against the working class?
Comment below.

REFLECTION from Branson Jennings, a retail worker

Recently at my work (I work in retail) I came across an anti-union video that all new hires must watch. Oddly I never had to watch it; I later learned that the hiring manager at the time was somewhat sympathetic to unions and was married to a union member. Maybe she just forgot to show it to us? I’ll probably never know.

Anyway I happened to be in the break room one day at the same time as a group of new hires watching the video. Watching it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing on my legally mandated break, but despite what they tell you about capitalism you don’t really have much of a choice.

It started out with what I assume to be paid actors portraying associates, decrying the tyranny of unions and how ultimately they weren’t even needed. They weren’t needed, the ominous voice told us, because

a) the really nasty problems of capitalism, like child labor and unsafe working conditions, had been solved long ago and workplaces were now perfectly safe, non-oppressive paradises, and

b) the company’s “open door policy” and “private arbitration” would magically solve any and all conflicts between employees and the company. Just like that, capitalism itself would totally negate the central contradiction! No need for proletarian revolution after all.

Except, the unions never solved the horrors of capitalism. » ( Read more of REFLECTION from Branson Jennings, a retail worker… )

Worn out and exhausted

By Brandon Argy, construction worker, Indiana
December 28, 2015

I believe that too often we, as a people, put our focus on the “needy” or we bitch, bicker and argue about the various relief/welfare programs. We too often jump in and join the ranks of populism. I believe our focus and our thought process needs to be on the working class.

Has anyone really sat down and looked at the daily routine of the people who our politicians have deemed middle class; those who have work on a full time basis are more often than not, strapped at the end of the week.

Let’s go through a week of what many consider a good decent job, a factory worker. They rise at 6am (if not earlier), have a cup of coffee and head to work on the factory floor. They return home around 4pm, worn out and exhausted by the monotonous motions of the standardization of a system of obedience and structure of the bosses. Go to bed around 9pm and do it all over again the next day. Monday through Friday. Once the weekend they might have a BBQ, catch a game and toss back a few beers. Then Monday rolls around and they do it all over again.

Quality of life has been lost because we have taught ourselves that this is what we are supposed to do. At the tail end of our lives hopefully we worked hard enough to have the last few years to rest….

This makes no sense to me. This makes no sense that the working class relies on the “Labor movement” of organized labor to hopefully fetch them a better wage. A better wage to pay for the increased rent, utilities, groceries and healthcare. Truth be told, Organized Labor (AFL-CIO) doesn’t work in the interest of the working class. Their own interest is much in-line with Organized Business.

The radicals that founded this country, the radicals that began the labor movement are out there… they are lying in the factories, in construction and in the fields. A generation or two has passed without any radical action the beginning has raised concern. An alternative must present itself.

Vietnam Syndrome

This poem was written by Robert Allen, a railroad engineer in Iowa. He says, “How to encapsulate my enlistment experience? I joined the service four months after the war was lost, at the exact ground zero if you will of the Viet Nam syndrome; the title came to me after I’d written it.”
**

Momma didn’t want me to join the Army
but Daddy said he’d sign for me cuz I was only 17
and he already had reservations about Momma
making me into a sissy cuz she argued to let me stay home
I didn’t like hunting cuz that 30 ought six
had a kick that hurt my skinny shoulder
and it was boring and cold
compared to fishing and frogging
Daddy was a janitor at the college and it was special
when he brought home treats from the vending machines
food that was expired, you took your chances with salmonella
if you ate a sandwich with meat, but
30 years later I wondered
if Fredy Perlman had bought a sandwich out of one of those machines
if our lives had crossed in some small way
It dcesn’t matter if he did or not
I know, my heart knows he did
Red headed stepchild on a Greyhound, heading for Detroit
20 dollars in my pocket, left the woods behind
Four Mile Road was 20 miles outside of Kalamazoo
our biggest fun was throwing dead raccoons and stringers of dead fish
down on passing cars from atop the big hill
and hearing the cars swerve and rumble to a stop, gravel flying
as we ran into the woods laughing
but I was headed for the Army now
skinny legs with holes in the knees of my jeans
going commando, wearing no underwear
I figured I’d buy some when I got to the city
somebody asked me “who’d you kill?”
I said “Nobody, I just knocked up my high school girlfriend
and we were going to do the right thing cuz we didn’t believe in abortion and we
were gonna sneak off and get married
and the army would pay for the kid.
and he said “well the Army is the place the judge sends you”.
When I got to Detroit, I was the only white
in a sea of Black faces, and all the stores were boarded up
due to the rebellions.
except Walgreens, which sold no underwear.
They put me up for the night in a crummy hotel
and the minutes turned to hours, my humiliation
approached glacially,
knowing I faced the Guantlet in the morning
where they strip you down to your shorts- which I didn’t have-
and you get a series of shots with hand held “guns”
Sure enough, morning brought my fears to light
and I went through the Gauntlet stark naked.
Someone asked me if I was an “exhibitionist”
and I said no, I just didn’t have any underwear
after the shots were done we were herded into a room,
me still naked and everyone else still in their skivvies,
and we took the oath to defend the US Constitution from all enemies
foreign and domestic, my right hand held up in solemnity
but all I could think of was my nakedness

This Week! Cane Cutters of Dominican Republic and Garment Workers of Haiti Meet to Voice Their Demands

ORIGINAL“On what I earn, I can’t afford shoes… We are poor, poor, poor. There are days we go to bed without food.” – Batey worker from the film, “The Price of Sugar”

In the sugar plantations or bateyes of Dominican Republic, cane cutters often work barefoot. They can’t afford shoes. They can barely afford food, for that matter, despite the fact that they often work a minimum of 12 hours a day, doing the back-breaking work of cutting sugar cane by hand.

On the other side of the border that divides Hispaniola, Haitian garment workers in Port Au Prince recently blockaded a Korean factory because of bounced paychecks. For years, Haitian garment workers have been fighting wage theft and to be paid the inadequate legal minimum wage – which is still not enough to live off of, much less dignified.

“Whatever the product is – the pair of pants, the t-shirt – we are the ones producing it. We labor hard, and don’t get paid.” – Haitian garment worker of SOTA in Port Au Prince

This weekend Unión De Trabajadores Cañeros De Los Bateyes (Union of the Bateyes of Sugarcane Workers) and Sendika Ouvriye Takstil ak Abiman (SOTA) (Union of Textile and Garment Workers) will meet to discuss their common struggles against exploitation. Specifically, they are meeting about recent actions of the DR government to strip people of Haitian descent of their citizenship. This has mostly affected the poor – cane cutters, street vendors, and service laborers. In bringing attention and their perspective to this struggle, the groups intentions are to put down false divisions of racism and nationalism, with the goal of working together against their common enemy – the Haitian and Dominican ruling classes.

SOTA is affiliated with the autonomous workers organization, Batay Ouvriye (BO) (Workers Fight), which will host a series of meetings, a press conference, and direct action in Port Au Prince.

According to one event organizer, “They will be three Haitian cane workers, one Dominican cane worker and the coordinator of the union. The presence of the Dominican cane worker is to deny the nationalist option and to put the class situation in concrete relief, in contrast to the bourgeois organizations here who pretend to defend their ‘compatriots.'”

There is a long history of animosity between Haiti and Dominican Republic. Both nationalism and racism are deeply rooted. The DR won its independence, not from European colonialists, but from Haiti. Since then, Haitians living in the DR have faced discrimination, and thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were massacred under Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo.

In 2013, the Dominican Supreme Court retroactively withdrew citizenship from anyone born in the DR to undocumented immigrants, with the provision that persons who submitted the proper documentation could apply for legal residency. The deadline for this application was summer 2015. However, many who submitted this paperwork, along with hundreds of dollars in fees, never received any notice or proper documentation from the government. Thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent left the DR, or were rounded up and dropped at the Haitian/Dominican border, often without being able to gather their belongings or to alert their families.

» ( Read more of This Week! Cane Cutters of Dominican Republic and Garment Workers of Haiti Meet to Voice Their Demands… )

Garment Workers Protest Nov/Dec 2015 in Port-au-Prince!

UPDATE:  On morning of December 9, 2015 garment workers in Port-au-Prince continue their protest against nonpayment of wages by the manufacturer. The Labor Minister came out to speak to them.

This is what an autonomous workers’ movement looks like!

 

Report from Haiti on November 30, 2015:

The Korean-owned garment factory gave paychecks with insufficient funds. The government promised the workers they would pay the workers themselves but they never did. This protest is going on right now in SONAPI industrial park.

The workers closed the factory by blocking the front with branches. Since this morning with posters in hand, they wanted to block the whole park but did not have the capacity for that. They are at present continuing the mobilization at the factory.

 

151130a

151130b

151130c

Worker Testifies: Overnight Stocker at Walmart

Andy Vidual works full-time graveyard at Walmart as a stocker, filling shelves in the xxxxxxxxxxxxxx section. He has worked at Walmart for the past three years and he makes $13.25/hour, which includes a $1/hour graveyard premium.

The main areas of struggle in Andy’s workplace are:
• A dick for a boss
• Work pace [excerpted below]
• Low wages [excerpted below]
• Scheduling

[Below are excerpts from the whole interview, which can be viewed in full by clicking here: Workers Struggle-Sudbury, November 2015 Newsletter]

WORK PACE

Andy: We’re expected as overnight stockers to do 50 boxes an hour. I’m not worried about myself, I know I do well over that…. I know there are employees that don’t make that number, and that’s why they’re on his bad side. But if I have a week without this dick boss, I’m not concerned about those numbers, I’m concerned about how the stuff looks on the shelf, and not how fast I get it out….

Rachael: How big is a box?

Andy: The main aisle that I work is the xxxxxxxxxxxxxx aisle. If I have a case of xxxxxxxxxxxxxx… that’s one [box]. It sits… on top of a tray of 12, so basically for that product, all I do is cut off the plastic, move my stuff back that’s already on the shelf and put that case there on the shelf, so that’s a quick one. But say if… somebody in another aisle that has another [case] of 12 boxes of cereal, that [box can be a different size]. All cases are a minute… and five. That’s the company standard, not just this one boss’s or this one store’s standard…. The company did a big study on it… a number of stores… and said, “Yep, your average should be one minute and five seconds per [box].”

Rachael: Capitalists are always trying to speed up work to try to get more out of their workers, and so, from a militant’s perspective, it’s actually proper for the worker to resist that pressure that the capitalist is always putting on them… especially if you notice other workers around you can’t keep that pace…. It supports them if you keep your pace slower. Now, it’s going back to the exact same point that you made earlier, which was: you want to stay in their good graces. So you have to balance that somehow, staying on the good side, but also supporting your other workers, because if they struggle to get the 50 boxes and you’re doing 70, you’re going to get used.

Andy: Oh, I’m totally getting used.

» ( Read more of Worker Testifies: Overnight Stocker at Walmart… )

Interview with Postal Worker Phil Marsh

Phil Marsh is a militant postal worker with Canada Post with nineteen years seniority. Postal workers have a militant history and are currently unionized with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). Phil has organized for years with the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP). He and a small group of militant postal workers are currently working to rule against Canada Post. In a short period of time, they have accumulated over 2000 hours of overtime against the corporation.

The main areas of struggle in Phil’s workplace are:
    • Fighting the ongoing attack on postal workers
    • Higher than average injuries
    • Capitulation of union

» ( Read more of Interview with Postal Worker Phil Marsh… )

Support strike in Haiti today & tomorrow — by ESPM-BO

MAY 1ST UNION FEDERATION – BATAY OUVRIYE (ESPM-BO)

Port-Au-Prince November 6, 2015

The government’s objective is to make matters worse every day for the workers and the popular masses in general while tending to the interests of big commerce, industrialists, financiers and all the other big thieves in the country. Today, the two (2) recent Executive Orders just published are a continuation of the same policies. They are increasing the cost of passport fees, tax identification numbers, and driving permits on the backs of the poor while paying high compensation to former ministers and secretaries of state for having plundered the population. In addition, the minimum salary adjustments of the laborers and workers didn’t happen in October while prices of basic goods kept going up. The workers’ purchasing power continues to decrease.

As we witness the government and Opont’s provisional electoral council making up all kinds of maneuvers and tricks to favor the same blood-sucking politicians to continue to pluck the masses at the state level, the May 1st Union Federation/Batay Ouvriye supports the two (2) days of strike the transportation unions have launched for November 9th & 10th .

We call on all workers, laborers in the private and public sectors, peasants, small peddlers, artisans, students, the unemployed, all mothers, fathers, and children of the poor to stay home to signal to the government, in a national show of togetherness, that we disagree with the damning and cynical decisions taken on our backs. This government has ripped us off enough. We cannot tolerate that any longer.

Let’s support the strike! Let’s mobilize to defend our interests!

On Behalf of ESPM-BO,

Urbain Garcon


ENTÈSENDIKAL PREMYE ME – BATAY OUVRIYE  (ESPM-BO)

Pòtoprens, jou ki 6 novanm 2015

Objektif gouvènman sa a, se rann travayè yo, mas pèp la anjeneral vin pi mal chak jou pandan y ap satisfè enterè gwo komèsan, endistriyèl, finansye ak tout lòt gran manjè parèy yo nan peyi a. Jodya, 2 dènye dekre yo fenk pibliye yo montre se menm politik la k ap kontinye. Y ap ogamante pri tenb paspò, matrikil fiscal, pèmi kondyi sou do malere pandan y ap bay ansyen minis ak sektetè deta yon prim poutèt yo fin byen prije popilasyon an. Mete sou sa, ajisteman salè minimòm travayè ak ouvriye yo pa fèt nan mwa oktòb la pandan pri tout pwodyi premye nesesite ap monte bwa. Pouvwa dacha ouvriye/yèz ak travayè/yèz ap kontinye bese.

Lè nou konsidere gouvènman an ak KEP Opont an ap fè tout kalite magouy pou se menm politisyen sousè sa yo ki pou kontinye prije mas popilè yo nan tèt leta a, nou menm nan ENTE SENDIKAL PREMYE ME / BATAY OUVRIYE, nou apiye 2 jounen grèv Sendika Transpò yo lanse pou le 9 ak 10 novanm k ap vini la a.

N ap mande pou tout ouvriye, travayè kit nan sektè prive oswa nan sektè piblik, peyizan, ti machann, atizan, etidyan chomè, tout manman ak papa pitit malerè ak malerèz pou yo rete lakay yo pou nou montre gouvènman sa a nan yon gwo tèt ansanm nasyonal ke nou pa dakò ak kalite desizyon move zafè y ap pran sou do nou. Gouvènman sa a prije nou ase. Nou p ap tolere sa ankò.

ANN NOU TOUT APIYE GRÈV LA. ANN MOBILIZE N POU DEFANN ENTERE NOU !

Pou ESPM.BO,

Urbain GARCON

 

A Brief Note to Workers Starting to Organize

By Lowlander
October 2015

(The author is a truck driver in the U.S. with union organizing experience)

Go to the website of NLRB (National Labor Relations Board: www.nlrb.gov) and read about what rights you have and what the company can and can’t do.

You need to keep a low profile until you can get a good sized group. These companies can be real scumbags!!!

It’s very unwise to use your own name or come out openly in the beginning. Martyrdom doesn’t work well in these situations. You need to keep your head down, do as much off company property as possible, and watch who you talk to. Send out feelers first. You won’t do any good if you get walked out of the gate. By feelers I mean drop a hint, see who can be trusted and who can’t.

And lastly, this shit can become like espionage. It takes time and patience learning who can be trusted.

It’s pretty important. If a company gets wind of something like that before you have a majority (or close) they could easily make an example out of you. They don’t play fair!

If they don’t see it coming, it’s that much better!!!!

That said, there is no reward without risk.

 

Worker Testifies: Food Production (USA)

by Paul Sumner

[Name of worker and company are changed to protect his job].

foodIllo1cropped

Illustration by Paul Sumner

“This is actually a classic don’t give a fuck about workers story. I work in front of three 6 ft grills that have had the regulators taken out so instead of only 500 degrees, they hit 700 degrees. There is only a 5hp motor running the beleaguered exhaust hoods. It’s in this environment that I grill 1,500-2,000 lbs of chicken every night. Most of the kitchen workers are people like myself who used to be line cooks and chefs. Everyone is somewhat disgruntled.”

***

I work as a wage slave for a food distribution company called XYZ. Years ago I used to order from them when I was the head chef at a restaurant.

A few years ago this company expanded and started producing microwaveable meals, so they installed all sorts of cooking equipment into a warehouse built for refrigeration, insulated walls, no windows. There are steam convection ovens, kettles, tilt-skillets, three large fryelators and my area, which is three six foot grills side by side, by side. These grills are only supposed to reach 500 degrees, but the safety regulators have been removed allowing them to reach 700 degrees. All the cooking equipment is crowded into the middle of the plant. It is surrounded by areas that are refrigerated for food storage, prep, assembly and packing.

The cooking equipment is crowded under exhaust fans that only have a 5 hp motor to run them. The fresh air intake is located on the hot tar roof unshielded from the sun. My shift starts at 1 pm and goes until 10 pm, unless it’s slow and they can get us out early to save wages.

For the first few hours I am there it is horrible! All the ovens are going, chicken is being fried, sauces are simmering in the massive kettles, fish is being fried in the tilt skillets and chicken is being grilled. The grilling is supposed to be a three-man operation. One guy wheels a tub with approx. 170 lbs. of marinated chicken, placing the pieces on the grill. One guy flips the chicken and another picks it up and puts it on a sheet tray to go onto an oven rack so it can be cooked to USDA standards.

The smoke from this grill is heavy and it stays trapped by the oily heat from the frying on either side. The exhaust hoods cannot pull it out adequately. There are two clocks with thermometers, both on the cooler ends of the kitchen. On one of the hottest days of the summer they read 99, so it’s safe to assume the temp in front of the grill to be 120-130. No one that doesn’t have to be in front of the grill comes near it!

» ( Read more of Worker Testifies: Food Production (USA)… )

Interviews with Workers

Read full interviews at links below:

Sue Vival: Storefront clerk of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Sue Vival has been a storefront clerk at Eat Local Sudbury (ELS) for over a year. Her hourly wage is $13 per hour. She has also struggled to find work in her field as a farm worker which is forcing her to consider owning a farm.

The main struggles in Sue’s workplace/field are:
     • Precarious, low and unpaid work
     • Risk of injury

Ronnie Boisvert: drywall taper of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Ronnie Boisvert is a drywall taper with nearly ten years’ experience. He’s worked for many employers as well as for himself. Ronnie recently returned to Sudbury after a few years living in Elliot Lake with his partner, Elizabeth Sorrell, who also participated in this interview. They’ve been organizing in our community since they returned in the spring. For our local online community, Ronnie is also known as Blungey McGrues on Facebook.

The main struggles in Ronnie’s field of work are:
    • Getting paid
    • Wear and tear on his body

Carmen Emery: school bus driver of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Carmen Emery is a school bus driver for Leuschen Transportation with over thirteen years driving experience. The wage at Leuschen is $16.21 per hour for the first three hours of the run. After three hours, the hourly wage decreases to $14 per hour. If the drivers run late for any reason – traffic, trains, construction, accidents, poor road conditions, waiting for transfers, student management, vehicle breakdowns, waiting for a replacement bus – they are not paid for their extra time on the road.

The main areas of struggle in Carmen’s workplace are:
    • Low wages / unpaid work
    • Working conditions
    • Wear and tear on her body from driving

Paul Therrien: miner of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Paul Therrien is a miner for Vale with over twenty years of experience working underground. He’s unionized with Steelworkers Local 6500. We’re not going to go into any further detail regarding his work in order to protect his identity.

The main areas of struggle in Paul’s mine are:
• Recuperation of union
• Recuperation of health and safety generally, and diesel particulates specifically

Andy Vidual, overnight stocker of Sudbudy, Ontario, Canada

Andy Vidual works full-time graveyard at Walmart as a stocker, filling shelves in the xxxxxxxxxxxxxx section. He has worked at Walmart for the past three years and he makes $13.25/hour, which includes a $1/hour graveyard premium.

The main areas of struggle in Andy’s workplace are:
• A dick for a boss
• Work pace
• Low wages
• Scheduling

“Everything you see around you came here on a truck.”

Lowlander is a truck driver for Con-Way Freight. A conversation between him and an organizer for Workers Struggle was partly by talking and partly by text. It took place over several days.

Excerpts:

L: A major problem in the trucking industry is the pay structure. Personally, I would ONLY work by the hour but that’s becoming harder and harder to find. Unfortunately many are forced to take jobs that pay by the mile or by the load. Even worse are the companies that pay a flat rate per day. This causes a dangerous situation on the roads because the driver feels the faster he or she goes the more money they’ll make.

FMCSA [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] hours of service rules, often referred to as HOS, encourage this. A driver can legally drive for 11 hours in a 24 hour period or be “on duty” for 14 hours. They are only required to take 10 hours off and that starts from the time you clock out and ends at the time you clock back in. They wind up working almost 2/3 of a day.

WS: So a major point of struggle then is for an hourly wage high enough so people don’t have to work more than 40 hrs…is that what drivers want?

L: Absolutely. And to be compensated accordingly for extra time worked. Many drivers out there feel they need to work to the point of exhaustion just to make a living. That creates a dangerous situation not to mention a miserable existence.

If you’re paid by the mile or load and you’re sitting in traffic or on line to enter the port you’re not getting paid. Almost any downtime is unpaid.

If you get a chance search fluctuating overtime or Chinese overtime. This is another doosey I’ve come across since I’ve moved south. When it was first explained to me I thought, surely this HAS to be illegal. Apparently it’s not!!!

It’s one of the most bizarre things I’ve come across in 30+ years of working and I’ve only ever seen it in the southern “right to work” states.

[WS looked it up. It’s a way to comply with rules to pay time-and-a-half while robbing workers of part of what’s due to them. Overtime is calculated by dividing the weekly salary by the number of hours worked, basing half time pay on that number. So the more hours one works, the lower the rate of overtime pay is.]

WS: Does it apply where you work?

L: No way!!! That would never fly in the LTL [Less than Truck Load freight] industry.

WS: It’s unbelievable.

L: It is!!! Most drivers can’t even figure out how to calculate their pay checks so it’s confusing. It’s a pretty simple formula but designed to confuse.

WS: And designed to be a lower rate the longer they work.

L: Exactly!!! The so called over time equates to half time of the adjusted hourly rate. A real SCAM!!! I don’t think anyone wants to work more hours for a lower rate of pay.

» ( Read more of “Everything you see around you came here on a truck.”… )

Worker Testifies: Miner (Sudbury, ON)

The Interview

Saul Idarity works for Vale as a miner. He is unionized with United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6500. With twenty-five years seniority, he’s done it all: drilled, blasted, mucked and bolted – but he has worked right at the face, on the jumbo, for more than twenty of those years working underground.

The jumbo drill represents a technological “advancement” which reduced the number of workers needed and transitioned miners to working alone underground, while simultaneously boosting production and profits significantly. Late last year, Saul was injured while working close to the face. We cannot describe the injury in any detail in order to protect his identity but he was working alone at the time and all of his emergency equipment failed, including his man down button. If it were not for the arrival of another worker sometime later, on an unrelated matter, Saul is not sure he would have made it out alive.

We interviewed Saul in June, and despite his WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) claim having been approved several months previous, he had yet to receive any money.

The main areas of struggle in Saul’s workplace are:
• Production over safety as culmination of anti-worker culture
• Recovery from his injury, post trauma and accessing benefits
• Recuperation of union

Production over safety

Saul perceives Vale’s corporate culture as aggressively anti-worker compared to that of Inco, especially when it comes to safety. “The change of it all is Inco was Canadian. And they were willing to work. And it’s a give take. We gave, they took. They gave, we took. Never seen the way it is now. It’s a dog eat dog world….Unfortunately, they sold the country out and now the workers and people that live here pay for it….Before I got injured, you were pushed to the brink of fatigue and I worked right at the bottom, it was hot and everything. They want more, more, more. We get it. It’s what pays the bills, but when is it enough?”

“A lot of guys aren’t saying nothing ‘cause they’re scared, but there’s lots of close calls – lots….Nobody wants to say anything and it’s unfortunate. They preach: you have to report near misses and everything, but as soon as you do, they crucify you….You’re considered a shit disturber….Don’t forget, every time there’s an incident or a minor dressing or a medical, the company’s – their statistics, they’re charged. They were livid when the doctor put me off ’cause I went from a medical leave to a lost time.”
» ( Read more of Worker Testifies: Miner (Sudbury, ON)… )